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Credit Card Refund: Beginners Guide to a Better Shopping Experience

To the point Made a wrong purchase? Here's what you need to know about credit card refunds and how to proceed to receive compensation.

If you have ever gone shopping (which should be most of us), you may have heard the following or some variation of it from a cashier:

Just so you know, you have 14 days to return the item. Please make sure to keep the receipt and its original packaging.

We usually keep this message in the back of our heads on the off chance that we may need to return the item we bought in-store or online. However, flash forward a few days later, and you make the wrong purchase. It’s time to initiate a refund.

If you paid for the product with a credit card, you must understand what getting a credit card refund looks like and when you might use one. This article will guide you through how to receive compensation. Let’s begin!

What Is a Credit Card Refund?

A credit card refund happens when you return a product you purchased using a credit card and receive a credit to your account. Credit cards, as a whole, can be complex.

As most of us use it daily, it is easy to begin thinking that the money belongs to us when in fact, we are essentially borrowing money from our credit card issuer for a certain amount and repaying that back at the end of our credit card statement. So, when it comes to a credit card purchase and refund, the merchant is paid directly by the credit card issuer – not you.

By that same logic, if a merchant honours their refund policy, the refund comes back directly to your credit card account. That is why, in many cases, merchants won’t give a cash refund for a purchase made with a credit card.

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How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?

Processing a credit card refund depends on several factors including:

  • the return method,
  • merchant refund policy,
  • the credit card issuer etc.

For example, an online store return may take much longer to process: you have to mail the item back to the merchant which could cause delays between, you, shipping the item, and them, receiving it. Only once they have received the item do they begin initiating a refund to you whereas going in person gives you a much better chance to receive your refund earlier.

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Credit card refunds can take several days to be processed; some may take longer than others. While every company is different, around 2 to 14 days is a good bet, but you shouldn’t be surprised if it takes longer.

Will a Credit Card Refund Affect My Credit?

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to have a credit card refund affect your credit score both positively and negatively. For instance, one factor in determining your credit score is known as the utilization ratio, the amount of credit you use compared to the amount you have available.

Though this number varies, many experts agree that having it in between 15-30% will help your chances of improving your score. Therefore, if you receive a credit card refund before your credit card statement that reduces your utilization ratio below that threshold, you could see a positive effect on your credit score.

The same can be said of the reverse situation, however. As we mentioned, credit card refunds can take some time. If you do not receive a refund before your credit card statement and carry your balance over the 15-30% threshold, you may get a ding on your credit score. Not to mention the additional interest accrued as a result of a balance.

What Is a Chargeback on a Credit Card?

In our previous article on credit card authorization forms, we briefly touched on chargebacks, which involve disputing a charge with your credit card company. They are usually filed when the merchant may not have honoured their terms and conditions in an agreement with you by charging you an extra payment or more severe offences like identity fraud.

The main difference between the two is that a chargeback deals directly with the credit card issuer to correct a billing error on your account. On the other hand, a credit card refund deals with the merchant directly in cases where you need to get your money back over issues like product deficiency, cancellations, etc.

Credit card refunds can take several days to be processed; some may take longer than others. While every company is different, around 2 to 14 business days is a good bet, but you shouldn’t be surprised if it takes longer.

Tips for a Faster Credit Card Refund

1. Go In-Person and Ask

Credit card refund time depends on several factors, and your return method is one of them. Going in person and speaking to your merchant directly is a much better way to get your refund than, say, calling or online returns. Be polite, explain why the product doesn’t work for you and see what happens.

If this step works immediately – awesome, you will get a credit to your account. Merchants can say no, however, in which case you will have to contact your credit card company and initiate a dispute.

2. Read the Policy

To protect yourself, you should be aware of a business’s return policy outside of the quick blurb a cashier may give you on your way out. Go on their website and see their policies before making that refund request.

3. Get It All in Writing

Written documentation can go a long way in the credit card refund process. You should have documentation of the receipt, the merchant confirming the return, or any other document that proves your purchase. Additionally, any correspondence you have with the company via email that confirms your refund can act as a great reminder to them to expedite your refund.

Files
Files

4. Follow-up…Often

You may know of a family member or distant tie that always fights for every penny. No matter the price, they are persistent and ensure that each cent is accounted for.

It would be best if you had that same mentality regarding your credit card refund. In reality, it is not in a merchant’s interest to refund you their money, and as a result, they may not make it a priority.

The responsibility falls on you to ensure you can get your money back. Contact them often – even if you feel like you are pestering them.

Ran Out of Options? Initiate a Chargeback

If the merchant does not want to give you a refund, you may have to ask your credit card company to initiate a chargeback. Many credit card issuers will let you submit a dispute by phone, mail or online. Keep a copy of your supporting documents as your credit card issuer guides you through the process. Unfortunately, once a dispute is initiated, it could take up to 90 days.

The Bottom Line

Credit card refunds can definitely be simple if you are equipped with the knowledge to handle them. With these strategies, you are in an excellent position to protect yourself. But will you be initiating a refund anytime soon? Will this article help you? Share it with our Facebook community!

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What Happens to Credit Card Rewards When I Request a Refund?

Unfortunately, when you receive a credit card refund, you lose the rewards points you got from the original purchase. A way to avoid this would be to ask the merchant for store credit instead of a credit to your account. If it is a store you go to often, it may be worth it to keep your reward points.

Will I Receive a Foreign Transaction Fee Refund?

When you travel abroad and purchase using your credit card, the foreign transaction fee you initially charged may not be returned to you if you get a refund. However, this shouldn’t deter you from requesting a refund; you can call to ask if this would be the case.

Does a Credit Card Refund Count as a Credit Card Payment?

No. Refunds do not count as a payment toward your monthly bill. So while they do impact your total balance owing, you are still responsible for making at least your minimum payment every month.se.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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